ARENDALSUKA: "Why so few, and why is there a lack of research about them?"

Tonje Jakobsen in Alcoa participated in a debate with representatives from industry, research and administration about why so few girls choose the industry. 

On the boat MS Lofoten, Fafo organized the debate that focused on how to attract more women to the industry.

Little public interest

- There is little public interest in this, but Hydro is interested in the challenge and how we can recruit more women, says Per Holdø, Head of Organizational Development at Hydro Aluminium.

He sees a bright spot with a significant increase in female apprentices. They have a 35% representation of women among the apprentices they take in.

One of the few who has chosen a profession in the industry is Tonje Jakobsen, who works as a process operator at Alcoa in Farsund. She notes that 50% of the holiday temps are girls. The question is how to get more of them to stay.

Watch the film about Tonje here

Women now have a wider range of professions and job opportunities to choose from compared to before. Previously male-dominated fields like medicine and law are now dominated by women. However, this trend is much less pronounced in vocational education and various job levels within heavy industry. Why is this the case? And why does research on gender and equality in recent decades often neglect these women? These are questions that Fafo is interested in finding answers to.

Research disappeared

In the early 1970s, getting women into the industry was a topic of both research and policy discussions, but it almost disappeared afterward. Why did this happen? Fafo asks this question in light of an ongoing research project at Fafo about gender balance at Norsk Hydro.

The consequence of young people's educational choices becomes evident in the industry, where it becomes male-dominated. STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), engineering, and technical disciplines still have a majority of male students.


It is also evident that many academically inclined students are discouraged from choosing "male-dominated" fields because they are informed that the jobs they would enter are heavily male-dominated. In some places, women also experience that work equipment is tailored to men. A somewhat rough work culture with language that is on the edge also deters many girls from choosing this path.


Panel participants:
  • Per Holdø, head of organizational development, Hydro aluminium
  • Marianne Stray Aas, rådgiver, Kristiansand kommune
  • Tonje Jakobsen, prosessoperatør, aluminiumsverket Alcoa
  • Beret Bråten, forskningsleder, Fafo
  • Ragnhild Steen Jensen, forsker, Fafo
  • Hilde Gunn Slottemo, professor, Nord Universitet